The Best Tanks for Red-Eared Sliders

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best tank for red eared sliders

The red-eared slider is probably one of the most popular animals for people to buy, but they are usually not being properly taken care of and kept. 

First of all, you need to know that red-eared sliders can grow pretty big (12 inches), and they are messy animals.  

So if you don’t think that you can handle the cleaning on a turtle tank just because of your busy schedule, then it’s probably not a good idea to get a turtle in the first place.

If you are not sure whether or not you can handle it, but still think that turtles might be fun to have and want to give it a go, keep reading this article and we will dive more into the basics of owning a semi-aquatic turtle and talk about which are the best tanks for red-eared sliders.

The Best Red Eared Slider Tank

The best red-eared slider tank is the one that will most suit your red-eared slider needs and your own preferences.

If you prefer to have your red-eared slider in a large aquarium, that also looks nice in your house then we recommend a glass type of aquarium of around 25 gallons if we are talking about a juvenile red-eared slider.

But if looks don’t bother you and you want to be able to move the red-eared slider tank around your house more easily then we recommend a plastic or rubber-made type of turtle tank.




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Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit 20 Gallons Tank

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Rubbermaid Commercial Products Structural Foam Stock 50 Gallons Tank

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Glasscages Turtle 45 Gallons Tank with Platform & Ramp

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Glasscages Acrylic 60 Gallons Aquarium

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Lifegard Crystal Bookshelf 22 Gallons Aquarium

RELATED READING: The Best Food for Red Eared Sliders

Choosing The Red Eared Slider Tank Size

A good rule of thumb when choosing the turtle tank for your red-eared slider is to have about 10 gallons per inch of shell turtle, so for a red-eared slider that’s about 3 inches long, you should ideally put him in at least a 30-gallon turtle tank.

To take the right measurement for your red-eared slider, you stretch a line between the front of the shell and the back, ignoring the curve of the carapace.

Correct Shell Measurement
red eared slider tank measurement

Hatchlings are roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length and after the first year, they should be around 2-3.5” inches long.

Adult males range between 7-9 inches (17.8 cm – 22.8 cm) and the adult females fall within 10-12 inches (25 cm – 30.5 cm).

There are rare situations of adult red-eared sliders getting larger than 12 inches, with females usually being the largest. 

The best tip that I can give when choosing the best red-eared slider tank is to buy the largest tank that you can afford, even if your turtle is still small.

It doesn’t take too long for red-eared sliders to develop to their full size of around 8-12 inches.

Growth Rate of a Red-Eared Slider

In general, the growth rate of a red ear slider is affected by a lot of conditions like genetics, nutrition, and habitat conditions.

But usually, they will grow at about 3 inches during their first year, and then around 1 inch per year in captivity.

The Gender of a Red-Eared Slider Matters

Similar to how red ear sliders will grow faster in captivity, they will also mature sexually faster. 

This is important because red-eared slider females are larger than males. 

The male red-eared sliders are significantly smaller than the females, growing to be only at about 8-10 inches in turtle shell length, and they have thicker tails and long front claws used in mating. 

The adult female sliders can become as large as a food plate, about 14-16 inches from tip to tip of the carapace, and they typically have a short tail and small front claws used for digging retreats for laying eggs and sheltering their young.

These characteristics can only be determined only after your turtle reaches the ages between 2-4 years for males (less than 4 inches) and the females at around 3-5 years (less than 5 inches).

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Our Top Pick

Rubbermaid Commercial Structural Foam Stock Tank

100 Gallon | 53 x 31 x 25 inches | 35 pounds

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

RELATED READING: Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Hibernate?

Different Types of Red-Eared Slider Tanks

best red eared slider tank
red-eared slider in the grass

Owning a pet turtle takes a lot of effort so you need to be up for this, both physically and financially. There’s a reason so many turtles wind up in rescues.

They are not cheap to care for and are not low-maintenance at all adding the fact that they can live for several decades.

Red-eared sliders can get very large so getting the biggest tank you can manage, is not only important for the turtle but will also spare you the time and money if you were to buy a small enclosure.

You don’t need to have that much water, but the enclosure needs to be at least 10 gallons per turtle inch.

Glass Type Tanks

Glass type is what you will usually find on the market when it comes to turtle tanks which are specifically marketed towards semi-aquatic turtles.

Some come with turtle kits that can contain a lot of useful stuff for turtles especially if someone is a beginner and doesn’t really know what components to get for the tank.

They can be found mostly in every pet shop and some turtle keepers will even put them in a fish tank or aquariums as they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

They are more beautiful and charming to look at and are a bit easier to set up equipment for it.

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Our Top Pick

Tetrafauna Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Aquarium Kit

20 gallon | 30 x 12 x 12 inches | 42 pounds

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Plastic Type Tanks

If you are not into having a beautiful aquarium in your living room to showcase it to other people then a tank tub is the best enclosure that you could get.

Not only that these are way cheaper than your standard glass tank enclosure, but they can also be easily moved around and are very resistant.

Many people keep their sliders outdoor during the summer, so having something that you could easily relocate is huge stress relief.

You can include a water-tight drain hole at the bottom tank, and place them on a raised table on wheels with a hole drilled in it to match. That will allow you to move the enclosure outside and give it a good scrub out every now and then. 

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Our Top Pick

Tuff Stuff Products Tub

40 gallon | 40 x 27 x 13 inches | 16 pounds

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

RELATED READING: The Best Filter for Red Eared Slider

Red Eared Slider Natural Habitat

Before you start setting up the red ear slider tank we need to know what he likes and what type of habitat he comes from.

The red-eared slider geographically originates from the region around the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico.


They can thrive in warm climates, particularly the Southeast portion of the United States. 

The native habitat will normally have a few conditions. They include a freshwater source, areas to bask, proper vegetation and an area to nest. The water source, such as a pond or a narrow river, should be warm and calm.

There should be plentiful aquatic vegetation, which is the main component of an adult turtle slider’s diet.

red-eared slider natural habitat

The environment usually contains rock formations or logs to provide a basking area but anything above the surface that is stable and dry will normally do.

RELATED READ: How to Set Up a Turtle Tank

How to Setup a Red Eared Slider Tank

You should get the basic supplies to set up the red-eared slider tank:

What You Need for Red-Eared Slider Tank

  1. An at least 20-gallon turtle tank, which is the minimum tank size that we recommend for a baby red-eared slider or a plastic container.
  2. A basking area for the red-eared slider to dry off
  3. Heat bulbs and UVB bulbs can be set up with a light fixture
  4. Substrate that your turtle can’t fit it in its mouth
  5. A water filter system that’s meant for at least two to three times bigger than your turtle tank (for a 20-gallons tank you should have a filter that can sustain at least 40-gallons)
  6. Enough clean water for the turtle tank

Provide Enough Space in the Tank for Your Red-Eared Slider

Having enough space for your red-eared slider to swim is all fine and dandy but you need to take into consideration the room for him to bask.

Turtles are reptiles and they can’t produce heat within their bodies so they will need a completely dry area to bask.

Not only this will keep your pet’s health in a good condition but will also make him happier as he has the option to stay whenever he wants on land if he doesn’t feel like swimming.

The basking area can also help you determine some key things about your turtle.

In short, if your red-eared slider is basking too much it’s either that your water temperature in the tank is too cold for him or he is feeling ill. Another cause is that your turtle might be gravid (pregnant).

Maintain Suitable and Stable Water Temperature in the Tank

As we humans need stable temperatures in our houses so as the turtles need a suitable temperature in their tanks.

So providing an appropriate temperature for your turtle is required to keep him happy and healthy.

The optimum temperature for them ranges between 74 ° – 85 ° degrees Fahrenheit and anything below that will make your pet unhealthy over time.

We recommend buying a thermometer to properly observe the temperatures of the tank.

Ensure Your Turtle is Receiving Enough UV Light Per Day

To keep your red-eared slider shell in a good condition your tank needs to be equipped with a UVB light source as this will help your turtle to produce enough Vitamin D3.

Just having a normal lamp will not be enough for him so be sure you have a UVA and UVB light source.

Prepare the Appropriate Substrate for the Tank

Not only that having a substrate in your turtle tank will mimic the natural habitat of a turtle but it also comes with a lot of benefits for your turtle.

It will make your pet happier since they like to dig and will give him a sense of protection and satisfy his need to explore more. 

Not only this will make your turtle feel at home but it also helps his overall health by helping to trap debris and maintain a proper pH level within the turtle tank, as well as help the water remain as clean as possible.

Add a Water Filtration System

Most people will use a filter system for their turtle tank and because turtles are messier than your standard pet, you may need a more heavy-duty type of filter to deal with their wastes.

Even when you do use a filter, you’re still going to have to change the water regularly.

What Plants Can I Add To My Red-Eared Slider Tank?

They usually eat submerged plants like anacharis, water lettuce, water hyacinth, duckweed, frog-bit, and azolla (fairy moss).

What Water Temperature The Red Eared Tank Should Be At?

The water temperature should be at around 76 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let the water temperature fall under 75 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend an aquarium thermometer that is needed to monitor the temperature.

How Do Red Eared Sliders Sleep?

Red-eared sliders are great swimmers and at night they sleep underwater, usually sleeping on the bottom or floating on the surface tank.

Do Red Eared Sliders Need Light At Night?

At night, when they are sleeping, extra heat and light are not required as long as the water temperature remains at around 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 -24 degrees Celsius).

You must give your Red-eared Slider a “nighttime In the wild, the nighttime water temperatures usually fall gradually.

Can I Add Fish In A Tank With A Red Eared Slider?

Red ear sliders will try to eat most fish kept with them in the tank. In a big habitat, fish like koi may endure with red ear sliders, though the turtles may bite at their fins.

Can Red Eared Sliders Share A Tank?

As long as the tank is big enough, you can put a red-eared slider with other species that share the same tank requirements. 

Our Last Thoughts

The best tanks for red-eared sliders are those that have a water temperature of 76° to 84° Fahrenheit, UV light source, substrate, and filtration system.

It is also important to provide the turtle with an appropriate amount of daylight each day as well as add some plants into his tank.

You should never put two turtles in one habitat together unless it’s big enough or they share similar needs… even then it’s not ideal!